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The Things You Should Never Do at a Dinner Party

The Things You Should Never Do at a Dinner Party

Setting the table is often a hurried, last-minute task that can leave you wondering about the correct placement of the flatware, plates, napkins, and glassware. As if preparing the food for a dinner party wasn’t stressful enough, there’s also the struggle of setting the table correctly. Whether you’re hosting an intimate dinner with friends or a fancy three-course meal during the holidays, there is a certain etiquette to follow when placing plates, utensils, and glasses on the table.

In this article I will be sharing  some do’s and don’ts for planning and hosting dinner parties – including a guide on how to correctly lay a table, creating the best atmosphere via a seating plan, and even solving the conundrum of thank you cards as clearly demonstrated by Allens a renowned supplier of quality hospitality accessories  

How to correctly lay a dinner table

We know it might sound like a basic task but laying the table correctly will set the tone for your evening. Formal and informal dining will require different settings, so we’ve created a handy visual guide to help you nail your dinner setting.

DO follow basic etiquette

Regardless of the size and caliber of the invited guests, following basic etiquette the formality matters, you should follow the following three rules:

  • Place forks and knives in order of use and only set out cutlery that will be used
  • Side plates should sit on the left of the dinner plate
  • Glassware should be set above and to the right of the dinner plate with a red wine glass, a white wine glass and a water glass
  • Forks go to the left and knives to the right of the plate
  • Dessert cutlery should only go above when space is at a premium

If you’re looking to create a formal setting and planning to serve multiple courses – you should follow these etiquette tips for laying a table….

Formal setting etiquette

For a formal table setting, it is likely that a diner will be enjoying a number of courses. As stated above, knives and forks (and soup spoons) should be placed in the order of use with the utensils for the first course on the outside and ending with the dessert course (or whatever is appropriate).

DON’T get your left and right mixed up – Forks to the left, knives to the right Desert forks and spoons can be placed above the plate.  If there’s enough room they are also often placed in the appropriate sequence to the side of the plate, fork to the left, spoon to the right.

If you are serving a fish course a fish knife and fork will need to be set in the appropriate sequence although it has to be said that fish knives and forks are rarely used in the majority of modern settings. If you are serving bread as part of your meal you will need to lay a butter knife across the bread/side plate.

Informal table setting

If you are having an informal table setting, you should still follow the basic etiquette rules above, however, it is unlikely you will need as many items of cutlery. For an informal setting, you will only need a dinner knife and fork and maybe a dessert spoon or fork.

Whatever style or formality you opt for, our collection of tableware and glassware is used by luxury venues and for exclusive events, so we’re sure to have the perfect set for your dinner party.

Planning seating arrangements

With your table set, you’ll need to think about seating your guests. We’ve provided some tips on seating arrangements you can follow:

  1. DON’T let your guests choose their seats – In order to encourage mingling and help people get to know each other, we’d recommend planning where you’d like your guests to sit in advance. This way you can seat people based on shared interests and ensure no one feels left out.
  2. DO create place settings with name cards to identify where you’d like people to sit. This should enhance the theming (if suitable) and act as a talking point.
  3. DO position yourself at the head of the table. This is the designated Host seat and will allow you to quickly exit to the kitchen, to drive conversation if necessary or guide the course of the evening – guests will take their lead from the host
  4. DON’T sit couples together, have them sit separately to help conversation flow and sit singles together
The Things You Should Never Do at a Dinner Party
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